My kids are not little angels. They have to say sorry with near hourly regularity. As my parents used to say to me, I now parrot the phrase "saying sorry is just a word; changing your behaviour proves you are sorry."
We all make mistakes; I have made some absolute howlers. It's awful when you are in the public eye and stuff comes to light. You, the voting public, rightly don't have much sympathy, but the cold sweat and sleeplessness every single politician feels is horrible. But hey, live by the sword and all that jazz.
Day one of the Panama papers scandal was Cameron's chance to be a grown up. He had a chance to say that he had invested in offshore funds in the past. He had the chance to say sorry. Even better, he has the actual power to change his behaviour and commit to improving the regulation on this sort of avoidance.
David Cameron had the chance to show that politicians are not perfect. Politicians have had lives, made bad decisions, made mistakes. Just like every person behind every door in the country. He had the chance to dig deep, tell the truth and then work tirelessly to stop any evasion or avoidance of tax in the future. He would have got props for 'fessing up. I like to be honest, so I am not saying I would have just let him off the hook had he shown such bravery. I probably would have crowed for a bit, but I would eventually have been silenced by his new brave attempts to stop the richest having access to the kind of wealth multipliers most of can never hope to understand, let alone profit from.
Instead what we got was five days of half-truths, with an ever-decreasing credibility. In the end, the sorry truth of his involvement is given in a statement in which he basically says, "you plebs have misunderstood taxy stuff and I've done nothing wrong." (This is not an actual quote but it is what I heard).
It turns out he didn't just benefit from his father's offshore fortunes but invested in it himself. He very conveniently sold the shares just before 2010 election campaign got going. Funny that. Anyone might think he realised what a howling crapstorm this would cause if anyone ever found out.
Once when I was out door-knocking with my then eight-year-old son, I knocked on the door of a woman. When I asked if she had any local concerns she wanted to share with me, she replied, "I do, but I don't want to say it in front of your son." He dutifully gave us some space. It turned out that her complaint was pretty racist. This woman had identified that what she was going to say was wrong, so didn't want to say it in front of a child, but she still thought it. I suggested to her that if her views were not acceptable for young ears perhaps she shouldn't have them. It seems to me that when he bought these shares David Cameron knew what he was doing was wrong but he did it anyway.
He is still trying to say he has done nothing wrong. If he is so innocent why didn't he just tell the truth on day one. For the love of God man, just be honest. Just say: "I saw a way of making some money investing in shares in a fund registered in a secret postbox at the beach. My bad, I won't ever do it again, it was clearly wrong." He should admit that he found it hard to tell the truth because he's gone around saying he doesn't like this sort of thing and he realises it doesn't look good. He could then have reaffirmed his commitment to making sure this can never be allowed to happen again.
It is really, really hard to say if you've made a mistake. It takes courage. The UK Prime Minister had a chance to show courage, he had a chance to give us some faith in politicians. Instead he was a coward. A coward who cheats. Same old, same old.
We deserve better.
First printed online on the Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jess-phillips/david-cameron-offshore-tax...